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Overweight Tegus, the hows, the risks and how to avoid it.

Discussion in 'General Tegu Discussion' started by SnakeCharmr728, Jan 15, 2015.

  1. SnakeCharmr728

    SnakeCharmr728 Active Member 5 Year Member

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    I just wanted to give a little background and input on overweight tegus. Most of the tegus you see in the pet trade today are heavier than what they should be. See a wild tegu in South America and they are very LEAN and active. Of course being that our tegus are not roaming the wild and are being delivered a plate full of food without having to work for it, ours are going to be a bit heavier, HOWEVER there is a different in a thicker captive tegu and an OBESE tegu. Weights and numbers dont mean anything, its all about how much fat they are carrying on their body frame. so a small body frame that is X amount of pounds can be overweight while a larger body frame with the same amount of pounds is just fine... same with humans. Also just as with humans being overweight dramatically effects their health. Internal organs, especially the liver is damaged, poor muscle tone from being too heavy to be active, low fertility rates, and shortened life span.

    The main cause of obesity is too low of temps and too much protein in their diet. Too much protein means foods like ground turkey, organ parts and other foods that do not have bones, skin, etc. (anything other than whole prey) Red tegus are more prone to obesity since their diet requires a higher fruit content and often they don't eat as much fruit as they should..

    Ways to get your tegu to lose weight include providing a basking spot of at least 120, preferably 130-135.coinciding with good ambients. Do not free roam your tegus. Feeding small, healthy and often meals. Healthy food choices such as whole prey and FRUITS! Fruits are a vital part of losing weight. Good hydration - humidity and fruits make a difference. Increase their activity, give deep substrate for digging, bio-activity or leaf litter for foraging (good for mental stimulation too!) Water therapy, placing them in a tub of warm water increases activity for some, but not all. Exercise times where they can roam around a room or an escape proof yard supervised, as well as tong feeding and target training that makes them work for their food (in my experience this has never caused food aggression)

    This is Leo when he first came into the rescue over a year ago. He was incredibly obese and has suffered organ damage from it. Even his xrays showed his fat layer. It took just over 6 months to get him to a proper weight and the difference in his body and his activity is amazing. The first picture is of him at his heaviest. The other pictures are of him now.Only 4lbs lighter but 4lbs on a tegu is a big difference.[​IMG]
    Now:[​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
  2. Jackie & Hellboy

    Jackie & Hellboy Active Member

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    I remember you! You're on Varanus talk right? Very good info in this, higher temps are important, gotta metabolize all that bone and hair!
    Leezard likes this.
  3. SnakeCharmr728

    SnakeCharmr728 Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Yes I have posted a few times on varanustalk. :)
    Leezard likes this.
  4. Jackie & Hellboy

    Jackie & Hellboy Active Member

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    Awesome, well I float around between these 2 forums daily, I don't even own any monitors at the moment, only my 2 Gu's and a beardie so far, but that'll change soon! Just thought I'd give you a +1 on your great info.
    Leezard likes this.
  5. SnakeCharmr728

    SnakeCharmr728 Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Thank you! I have been absent from this forum for several months now, I spend most of my time on facebook groups but I will try to make more appearances here.
  6. apocalypse910

    apocalypse910 Active Member

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    This is great information - thank you. I have really been looking for some guides as the Vet has recently gotten after me for Loki's weight.
    I've drastically cut back his food intake but he hasn't lost weight yet because he has been half hibernating and his activity level has been extremely low.

    Out of curiosity what would you consider to be the markers of obesity on a tegu? I have a really difficult time distinguishing between normal tegu chunkiness and unhealthy - especially with males. I'm guessing the problem is that 95% of the pics I see are from captive tegus which are probably mostly overweight.

    Here are a few recent pics-
    http://i.imgur.com/jhGUFCw.jpg
    http://imgur.com/TnrZAy2

    I believe the vet - just wondering if you had any good frame of reference for normal.
  7. Jackie & Hellboy

    Jackie & Hellboy Active Member

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    Judging by the pics he's not too bad over the line, what are his basking temps at? Raising them up to 140-145 if they are lower will help him lose the extra weight in time along with the food cutback. His activity level should go up also.
  8. SnakeCharmr728

    SnakeCharmr728 Active Member 5 Year Member

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    I think he looks a perfect weight, not overweight. In my opinion, I wouldnt go over 140 for tegus, Ive found that 135 is usually the highest they like it otherwise they start basking off to the side of the basking spot. However, I noticed your bulb in really close to the tegu, and when bulbs are so close I worry about the lumens damaging their eyes. Is it that close to establish a higher basking? perhaps you could use a different watt or different type bulb that wouldnt require it being so close?

    Signs of a heathy weight is a lateral skin fold when walking or standing up, hard to judge that when the animal is laying down as it tends to flatten out. A little bit of extra skin on the back legs and not visible fat pads along either side of the spine.
  9. Jackie & Hellboy

    Jackie & Hellboy Active Member

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    Multiple bulbs of lower wattage will help keep distance from the bulbs and spread the heat out so there isn't a hot spot in the center
    Walter1 likes this.
  10. WestiesRoo

    WestiesRoo New Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi, I wish I had found this post yesterday before I posted a new topic. I have just copied and pasted my post to this topic. Anyway,..I have two juvenile tegus almost 3 months old, One is a blue red hybrid (Zane) and the other is a red (Rex).

    Rex hatched out with limb reductions of both front legs. He was shipped to me accidentally and the people that sent him apologized and offered to exchange him for another but I couldn't put him through the shipping process again. Does anyone else have any experience with this kind of thing? Rex gets around ok for the most part as long as the surface he is on isn't to smooth. I do worry about his mobility as he grows and gains weight. He is a good eater but not very active. I have tegu proofed the very large master bathroom and put in a uvb heat bulb for them to bask in while they are in there so they eat and can get exercise but the only exercise Rex seems to be interested in is the walk from his food dish to the blanket I have down for them to hide in. I have been feeding mostly lean ground turkey with hard boiled eggs and will rotate f/t pinkies and organ meet. I always offer crickets, dubia, and meal worms but Rex can't move fast enough to get the dubia. He can sometimes catch a cricket. I guess I need to take him off the turkey and feed more pray items. He has no interest in fruit at all but he is still a baby.The first pic is what I saw right after I opened the package. I have to say I was pretty heart broken at first.[​IMG][​IMG]
    [
  11. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    Thanks Charmr girl. Helpful info. Jackie and Hellboy good advice on spreading light/heat so as to avoid a lazer.
    Leezard likes this.
  12. Radical Reptiles

    Radical Reptiles New Member

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    Thanks for some great info Snakecharmr!
    I am guilty of loving my gu too much. I was told my many people as a juvenile (Not on this forum) to allow Yoshi to eat as he wants, and unfortunately that included daily raids of the dog bowl.
    The more I learn from everyone here the more educated on proper nutrition i am becoming.
    One question I have for you is why you oppose allowing him to free roam? You didn't specify your reason and would love to learn more.
    After I found Yoshi curled up w me in my bed one morning i have allowed him to free roam.
  13. misterpc23

    misterpc23 Member 5 Year Member

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    Letting a reptile free roam while you are asleep is not a good idea. It could hurt itself, you, or another animal you might have.
  14. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    The problem with free-roaming is that there's always something the owner forgot or didn't know to consider that's dangerous to the tegu and or the owner.
  15. misterpc23

    misterpc23 Member 5 Year Member

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    37FE9346-CEFB-4529-BC95-FC0D98A22FC6.jpeg
    Precisely!
    I have attached a picture along with this reply of Lucy when I caught her trying to pillage my wife’s makeup and body care products. It took less than 2 minutes for her to find her way into this CLOSED drawer! I took her out of the tub when she pooped and began to drain it. By the time it drained (shallow bath so only a few inches) she had climbed up the backside of the bathroom sink fixture and into the drawer, I’m sure it was only a matter of time before she would have gotten into them, not only making a mess but likely getting seriously ill/sick or dying.
  16. James Smith

    James Smith Active Member

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    Hello I am fairly new to the forum and you presented some really sound information here. Two things you mentioned I found very interesting. Your suggested bench mark temps seem a bit high. I thought a high 120's was max for Gu's. I am still adjusting mine to be perfectly at about 124 to 125 at it's hottest area, with an air temp of 84.5. Humidity at 30-40%

    Second is this comment " bio-activity or leaf litter for foraging (good for mental stimulation too!" As interesting as this sounds I am ignorant of your meaning. What is bio-activity? What is leaf litter for foraging? Do you mean hide things in their substrate so they can forage? I associates foraging with an animal search for it's food source, is this your meaning?

    I also agree with the water activity. When BOGA get out of his 15 min max bath time, he is wiped out. He is so tired after he don't even want to burrow in, he just lays on top of his substrate and sleeps.

    Lastly I posted a pic of my baby BOGA. He is 3 1/2 months old. He was born Sept 3rd. Any comment of his weigh would be appreciated I am guilty of providing a high protein diet but I do offer white grapes , which is his favorite, and I give him a pinky once a week. I also grind kale into his ground Turkey. Salmon is also his favorite and he eats that mostly. No DOG FOOD FOR BOGA, he's not a dog. Well that just my preference for my baby.

    Thank you for your post I feel there is a lot of good information you have provided in this post. Please continue posting 20181211_062322.jpg .
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2018
  17. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    Boga's has a healthy weight in my opinion= Thighs and hips are plump, not fat.

    115f bask is hot enough, with an abient in mid and low 80s. Hide should be below 80 for relief.
  18. James Smith

    James Smith Active Member

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    Since this is my first Tegu it's hard to gauge. From all my research that is about the temp I found more common Walter1 115-120. There has been a couple places I saw 125 is max. Right now I have it set to 117 - 119 but it takes a while to get up there to max temp. I was trying to get it to 125, but to do so I would either have to switch out my 150watt bulb to something higher in watts or move it closer to the surface or a little both.
  19. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    They vary, no doubt. The goal is that they don't burn or so hot that they bask too far away, which means very uneven body heating and too hot an ambient. So, watch the behavior and note the temps.
  20. James Smith

    James Smith Active Member

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    Will do Walter1. Thank you.